sometimes, you just have to eat out in the world…

Posted on by sorellasenzaglutine

I’ll be honest; I don’t eat out all that much.  Eating in restaurants involves relying on kitchens I’ve never seen and wait staff that don’t know the difference between glucose and gluten, so I usually err on the side of caution, perhaps to a fault sometimes.  Most of the GF websites and books have resources about how to advocate for yourself, restaurant cards you can give to your wait staff explaining your condition, and how to work with regular restaurants to modify regular food to GF status.  Personally, I think that’s too much trouble and not worth the risk. In general I’m not a big fan of having to tell complete strangers that I have Celiac Disease and then explaining what that means etc etc.  I’m not always in the mood for a teachable moment.  I tend to dine at places that already have GF menu and seem to have a secure understanding of the landscape.

I am sure if I cared about eating out more I would acquire these life skills and integrate more restaurant dining into my routine.  But right now, 3 years in, the start of my second year in a new city, I don’t particularly have that desire.  However, I do have some tried and true options listed below that even I feel comfortable eating at without much fuss, because sometimes, you just have to eat out in the world…

PF Chang’s 

courtesy of gsloan

I used to work around the corner from one in Boston and it ended up being a perpetual lifesaver when I didn’t have time to cook, wanted a special treat, or wanted to go out with friends.

Things I love:

  • They have integrated their GF menu onto the back of their main menu, so you don’t even have to request a special menu.
  • They have GF soy sauce packets to go!
  • They offer a rewards card (called the Warrior card)  that saves you 10% on your meal.  They used to even print your name on the front of it.  You can apply online, then they send it to you in the mail, and they can also email you with specials that they run and opportunities for more savings.
  • The portions tend to be large enough that you can make two meals out of it.
  • My personal favorite dishes are the Chang’s Spicy Chicken and the Fried Rice.  Delicious.

Don’t love so much:

  • They will insist on giving you the fortune cookies, but don’t partake.  Just spread the fortune cookie love around.

Outback Steakhouse

courtesy of soeperbaby

While we have a growing tradition at eating at Outback when en route during group trips, (which I have really been enjoying), though they are not a chain I eat at often.

Things I love:

  • Though it is not necessarily a fine dining option, their Chicken Caesar Salad is particularly delicious.  It has a nice edge to it. Editor’s note: That edge is garlic. Obviously the key ingredient for maximum deliciousness.
  • You have to request a separate menu, but it gives you explicit ordering instructions (ie: order without bread, croutons, etc) so that you can cover your bases with the wait staff.
  • It is quite an extensive menu with a whole lot of options.

Things I don’t love:

  •  They serve bread at the table on funny little cutting boards with giant knives.  It looks delicious and just makes me a little sad, but it is mostly alright.

Wendy’s 

courtesy of phlyingpenguin

Things I love:

  • They do an excellent job of updating their GF list on a regular basis, basically every month.
  • Can we all take a minute for the 99c cool and creamy dairy frosted dessert also known as a Frosty?  I’m glad that chocolate frosties are still available in my GF life.  So good.
  • They are a consistent and prevalent choice.

Things I don’t love:

  • Unfortunately, most of the items a GF person can eat are condiments, beverages, and sides, but there is at least enough to cobble together a decent meal when you are in a jam.

In-N-Out Burger

courtesy of Aaron Friedman

This is a very recent addition to my life since moving to California and I am glad for it.  Everything everyone says about it is true.

Things I love:

  • They do not have a GF menu per say, but because their food is fresh and simple it is easily and safely adapted.
  • It is the first time in a good long while that I can eat french fries out in the world.  Because their menu is so basic they don’t deep fry other breaded objects with their fries, so that’s why they are acceptable to eat.

Things I don’t love:

  • Any In-N-Out I have ever been to always has a fantastically long line.  I think this speaks volume about the quality and desire for their food, but it is limiting in that they can’t be a dine and dash option.

Also, depending on where you live, there will be smaller restaurants that have GF menus.  There are plenty more, but these are briefly some that I have tried (and loved).

(In and around) Boston, MA:

  1. Zing Pizza

    interior of Zing Pizza courtesty of snowpea&bokchoi

  2. Veggie Planet
  3. Stone Hearth Pizza Co
  4. Elephant Walk

Los Angeles:

  1. Hugo’s

Until next time!


 

Yum
 

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